Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124097513, 9780080492162

Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations

1st Edition

Authors: M.B. Kirkham
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124097513
eBook ISBN: 9780080492162
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 30th September 2004
Page Count: 520
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Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations combines biology and physics to show how water moves through the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. This text explores the instrumentation and the methods used to measure the status of water in soil and plants. Principles are clearly presented with the aid of diagrams, anatomical figures, and images of instrumentation. The methods on instrumentation can be used by researchers, consultants, and the military to monitor soil degradation, including measurements of soil compaction, repellency, oxygen diffusion rate, and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity.

Intended for graduate students in plant and soil science programs, this book also serves as a useful reference for agronomists, plant ecologists, and agricultural engineers.

Key Features

  • Principles are presented in an easy-to-understand style
  • Heavily illustrated with more than 200 figures; diagrams are professionally drawn
  • Anatomical figures show root, stem, leaf, and stomata
  • Figures of instruments show how they work
  • Book is carefully referenced, giving sources for all information
  • Struggles and accomplishments of scientists who developed the theories are given in short biographies.


Agronomists, horticulturists, agricultural engineers, agricultural climatologists, plant ecologists. Graduate-level courses in soil and plant water relations, upper-level undergraduate, consultants working on military contracts.

Table of Contents

Introduction Definitions of Physical Units and the International System Structure and Properties of Water Tensiometers Terminology Static Water in Soil Water Movement in Saturated Soil Field Capacity, Permanent Wilting, Available Water, and the Non-Limiting Water Range Penetrometer Measurements Measurement of Oxygen Diffusion Rate Infiltration Pore Volume Measurement of Soil Water Content using Time Domain Reflectometry Root Anatomy and Poiseuille’s Law Water Movement to Plant Roots and Gardner’s Equation Measurement of Water Potential with Thermocouple Psychrometers Measurement of Water Potential with Pressure Chambers Stem Anatomy and Measurement of Osmotic Potential and Turgor Potential Cohesion Theory Electrical Analogues Leaf Anatomy and Elasticity Stomatal Anatomy and Stomatal Resistance Solar Radiation and Black Bodies Measurement of Canopy Temperature with Infrared Thermometers Crop-Water-Stress Index Potential Evapotranspiration Water and Yield


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2005
30th September 2004
Academic Press
Hardcover ISBN:
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

M.B. Kirkham

M. B. Kirkham is a Professor in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University. Her research involves two areas: soil-plant-water relations and uptake of heavy metals by crops grown on polluted soil (called “phytoremediation”). Dr. Kirkham is currently collaborating with colleagues at the Kansas State University Northwest Research-Extension Center in Colby, Kansas to study yield and water relations of sorghum grown under the semi-arid conditions of far western Kansas. Dr. Kirkham serves on several editorial boards: Soil Science; Journal of Crop Improvement; International Agrophysics; Crop Science; Australian Journal of Soil Research; Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment; Agricultural Water Management; Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research; Agricultural, Food and Analytical Bacteriology; and Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. In addition, Dr. Kirkham has received the CSSA Crop Science Research Award and the 2010-11 Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Research.

Affiliations and Expertise

Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA


""Unique in various ways, and above all is a pleasure to read or browse through. Each chapter contains plenty of references and has extraordinary detail, as one might expect from Mary Beth Kirkham. Unlike most other textbooks Mary Beth devotes many chapters solely to specific instrumentation, including chapters on tensiometry, soil penetrometers, soil oxygen diffusion rate, tension infiltrometry, time domain reflectometry, psychrometry, pressure chambers, and infared thermometers...the author presents thorough explanations based on physical principles that are intuitive, clear, and refreshing. The care exercised by Mary Beth in writing and reviewing this material is exemplified by the fact that I could not find a single error, either in the typesetting or in the scientific excellent text for an introduction in soil-water-plant relations. I also find it an extremely valuable reference for my own library because of the supplementary material that I usually cannot find in other related textbooks. I would highly recommend it for students and professionals alike.""
- Jan W. Hopmans, University of California, Davis

""The sheer magnitude of this book's subject matter could overwhelm many readers, but Dr. Kirkham spares us this fate by virtue of superb organization, foundation building, and clear, example-rich writing...I am pleased to recommend this book to students and scientists at any level who profess interest in soil-water science or plant-water relations, and to dendrochronologists or environmental botanists who investigate the effects of water stresses upon tree growth and structure. It would serve as an excellent text for a graduate or advanced undergraduate course, as well, and indeed I expect it to become the standard for this purpose. I would gladly spend my own money for this book, which today joins other timely references on the lowest shelf of my bookcase, within arm's reach.""
-T.M. Yanosky, U.S. Geological Survey, in JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, VOL. 34, AUG. 2005

""[Kirkham's] writing style is a beautiful blend of the formal and the familiar, resulting in the feeling that you are not so much reading the text, as seeing the seminar on which the text was based...I enjoyed reading this unique book because it assembled many important aspects of water relations into one concise format. Kirkham guides you on a journey of discovery (or in my case re-discovery) of the principles underlying the concepts and practices of plant and soil water relations. Her book provides perfect foundation for university courses on the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum...Kirkham's book is a powerful reference tool for plant and soil scientists alike. Keep this book on your desk so that you can present it to the next plant breeder who walks into your office asking for help to develop a simple test for screening drought tolerance in plants.""
- Malcom J. Morrison, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, ECORC, in Agriculture Ecosystems amp;amp;amp; Environment

""Every chapter has a simple, logical construction. The definitions are presented first, next comes the physical or anatomical background and then descriptions of processes, assumptions of laws and theories with the controversies around them. Deep physical background is a feature of this text, expecially evident as the text puts emphasis on the instrumentation and methods used to m easure the status of water in soil and plants. The presentation of strong and weak sides of various methods and comparisons of methods are very useful...The author's great biological as well as physical and mathematical skills are very well presented...I greatly value this book and I can highly recommend it.""

""It is an excellent reference book for undergraduates, postgraduates and established scientists alike...Excessive mathematical detail is avoided to keep a wide audience on-board, so that the book remains appropriate for students of biology and agriculture, in addition to agricultural engineers and soil physicists...The book has been produced to a high standard, with clear diagrams and graphs throughout. The text gives very clear explanation and discussion of the subject, making the assumptions and limitations of our understanding clear... a very worthwhile investment.""

""...the book has a great deal to offer anyone interested in soil and plant water relationships...well supplied with clear, useful diagrams...The book is intended primarily for graduate students but it is also likely to be useful to post-graduates and researchers in any fields where soil and plant water relationships are relevant.""
- John Robers, in WEATHER

""This book will appeal to both students and practicing researchers....Students will enjoy Dr Kirkham’s clear exposition of the scientific principles, and her instructive worked examples which reinforce the presentation of the underlying equations....Researchers will find this comprehensive book of 27 chapters a treasure trove of useful information on the physical, chemical and biological processes that connect the soil to plants and the atmosphere. Everyone will enjoy the vignettes appended to each chapter which detail the life and works of key scientists whose research endeavours advanced our understanding of the scientific principles of soil and plant water relations. There is something for everyone in this book."" - Brent Clothier, HortResearch, New Zealand

“This book is a basic treatise, clearly written, and entertaining throughout. It is a textbook that has all the attributes for becoming a classic in its field.” - Rienk R. van der Ploeg, University of Hannover, Germany

”Professor Kirkham has used her considerable experience and vast knowledge both as a teacher and as a scientist to produce a comprehensive treatise on the principles of soil-plant-water relationships.... Students and researchers in plant physiology, soil science, agriculture, horticulture,
and ecology will greatly benefit, for years to come, from this exceptionally well presented and illustrated book.” - M. Hossein Behboudian, Massey
University, New Zealand

""Principles of Soil and Plant Water Relations by M.B. Kirkham is a compressive review of our current ideology of water movement and storage within plants and soil. Indeed, this is a needed update concerning the understanding of this topic and the first in almost ten years. This book takes the reader through the basic physical properties of water to the principles of water as it moves through the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. At the end of each chapter are biographies of scientists that helped to develop the concepts discussed within the text. I was glad and enlightened to see this addition, for as I have often been reminded as a scientist, ""we stand on the shoulders of giants."" I highly recommend this book as a companion for those that work with water relations and as a teaching tool for those that wish to learn more about this basic, but often misunderstood, principle of plant and soil physiology."" - James K. McCarron, Adams State College, Colorado

Ratings and Reviews